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Bronze Age arrowhead made of meteoritic iron identified by study

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A study of archaeological collections from the greater area of Lake Biel in Switzerland has revealed that a Bronze Age arrowhead housed in the Bern History Museum was made from IAB meteoritic iron.

The arrowhead was found during a 19th century excavation of a stilt house settlement at Mörigen in the canton of Bern. The settlement dates from around 900 to 800 BC and was inhabited by people from the Urnfield culture, a late Bronze Age culture of Central Europe.

The site was discovered in 1843 after water levels in Lake Biel dropped. This resulted in amateur excavations taking artefacts out of situ which were placed in private collections.

In 1873, the Bernese government took decisive action to protect the site, by prohibiting private excavations and commissioned a research team to conduct a detailed survey led by Edward Jenner and Edmund Fellberg. The archaeologists found a settlement covering 190 by 120 metres, containing evidence of buildings and bridges, and numerous Bronze Age artefacts.

In a study published in the journal Science Directs, researchers using gamma spectrometry, X-ray fluorescence, and a Muon Induced X-ray Emission (MIXE) analysis, have revealed that the arrowhead from the Mörigen settlement was made from IAB meteoritic iron.

The results of the analysis indicate that the arrowhead is partly made of Aluminium-26 (26Al, Al-26), a radioactive isotope only found naturally in extraterrestrial objects. In addition to the typical meteoritic elements Fe, Ni, Co, Ga and Ge (Cr < 52 ppm, average detection limit), they also found relatively high concentrations of As and Cu, not typical of iron meteorites.

By comparing the chemical composition, the team suggest that the arrowhead’s material was sourced from the Kaalijarv meteorite, an impact event that occurred around 1,500 BC in Estonia and produced many small fragments.

The researchers also suggest that the arrowhead could indicate a network of trade in iron meteorites by 800 BC (or earlier) in Central Europe, which may have been traded over the same routes from the Baltic area as amber.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2023.105827

Header Image Credit : Science Directs

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Archaeology

Megathrust earthquakes possible cause of Teōtīhuacān decline

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A new study, published in the journal Science Direct, suggests that a series of megathrust earthquakes led to the decline and possible abandonment of Teōtīhuacān.

Named by the Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs as Teōtīhuacān, and loosely translated as “birthplace of the gods”, Teōtīhuacān is an ancient Mesoamerican city located in the Teōtīhuacān Valley of the Free and Sovereign State of Mexico, in present-day Mexico.

The development of Teōtīhuacān can be identified by four distinct consecutive phases, known as Teōtīhuacān I, II, III, and IV.

It was during phase II (AD 100 to 350) that the city population rapidly grew into a metropolis and saw the construction of monuments such as the Pyramid of the Sun (the third largest ancient pyramid after the Great Pyramid of Cholula and the Great Pyramid of Giza), the Pyramid of the Moon, the Avenue of the Dead, and the Ciudadela with the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (also known as Temple of the Quetzalcoatl).

An analysis of several pyramids within the city has revealed evidence of Earthquake Archaeological Effects (EAEs), potentially linked to seismic loading. The study has focused on the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (Old temple and New temple), and the Sun and the Moon pyramids, in which visible EAE’s can be observed.

According to the researchers, the EAE’s are likely caused by megathrust earthquakes, for which five destructive ancient earthquakes have been estimated to have struck Teōtīhuacān between the Tzacualli – Miccaotli (AD 100–150), and Metepec (AD 600 ± 50) stages, by matching EAEs and archaeological dates.

Based on the spatial pattern of the EAEs and the orientation of the dipping broken corners (DBC) or chip marks, it is theorised that a series of seismic shocks struct the city from the SW to the NE, indicating a possible origin of a seismic source in the Middle American Trench caused by repetitive megathrust earthquakes.

At least, two strong destructive earthquakes (Intensity VIII-IX) affected Teōtīhuacān in antiquity that impacted the development of the architectural styles. The first one occurred between the years AD 1–150 (Miccaotli phase), and the second one occurred in AD 455 ± 50 (Late Xolalpan-Early Metepec phase).

This was followed by three further damaging earthquakes, for which the latter two occurred around AD 650 before the abandonment of the city the following century.

“This proposal does not conflict with other existing theories for the Teotihuacan abrupt collapse, considering that the sudden overlapping of natural disasters like earthquakes could increase internal warfare (uprising), and civil unrest,” said the study authors.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Science Direct | Teotihuacan ancient culture affected by megathrust earthquakes during the early Epiclassic Period (Mexico). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2024.104528.

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Excavations uncover traces of Kraków Fortress

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A team of archaeologists conducting archaeological works at the S52 construction site have uncovered traces of the Kraków Fortress in the Polish city of Kraków.

S52 is a Polish highway being constructed in the Silesian and Lesser Poland voivodeships, which upon completion will connect the border of the Czech Republic in Cieszyn with Kraków.

Kraków Fortress refers to a series of Austro-Hungarian fortifications constructed during the 19th century. The fortress included the 18th century Kościuszko Insurrection fortifications, the medieval Wawel Castle, and the Kraków city walls. Of the over 50 post-Austrian forts in Krakow, 44 structures have been preserved in their entirety or with minor changes.

Excavations in the area of ​​the northern bypass of Krakow have revealed the remains of earthen structures related to the network of military units being established around the city, whose task was to turn Krakow into a modern border fortress.

The team also uncovered traces of earth embankments and moats, as well as the infrastructure for draining rainwater from the infantry entrenchment area and a wooden shelter from a dugout measuring 25 by 7.5 metres.

A press statement by the Republic of Poland, said: “During the research, objects related to the everyday life of soldiers were discovered. These include a tin enameled mug with a signature on the bottom depicting a double-headed imperial eagle with the inscription Austria and the initials H&C 1/2.”

“The preserved marking allowed us to determine that the mug is a product of the Haardt & Co. factory located in Knittelfeld, Austria. Enamellierwerke und Metallwarenfabriken AG. Founded in 1873 by Friedrich Wilhelm Haardt, the factory produced embossed enamelled dishes, including orders for the then Austrian army.”

Header Image Credit : Republic of Poland

Sources : Republic of Poland

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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